Thursday, November 12, 2009

Can Foods Rich in Magnesium Reduce Stroke Risk?

Being the leading cause of heart disease and cancer, cigarette smoking is also strongly linked to stroke.

A study that was published on March 10, 2008 in the Archives of Internal Medicine reported that diets rich in magnesium could help smokers reduce their stroke risk. Carried out by researchers from Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, the study was aim originally to look at possible lung cancer therapies.

Researchers have not figured out the mechanism behind the finding, but suspected that it might be the magnesium that helps reduce high blood pressure. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a disorder that can lead to stroke if it is not treated in time.

About 26,556 Finnish male smokers were followed for more than 13 years. The study found that those who consumed an average of 589 milligrams of magnesium each day in their diets had a 15 percent lower risk for cerebral infarction than those who consumed less magnesium. Cerebral infarction is a kind of stroke that occurs when blood flow to the brain is blocked.

The effect was found to be stronger for men younger than 60 years old. Meanwhile, the study also showed that the intake of calcium, potassium and sodium was not associated with risk for any type of stroke.

Magnesium can not only lower blood pressure but also influence the cholesterol level or the use of insulin that turns glucose into energy. Any of these 2 mechanisms would affect the risk for cerebral infarction but not hemorrhagic stroke. Hemorrhagic stroke is another type of stroke that occurs when the vessel ruptures, causing blood to leak into the brain.

Foods rich in magnesium can be found in whole grains, black beans, broccoli, halibut, oysters, peanuts, rockfish and spinach. However, the researchers are not sure if taking magnesium dietary supplements would also produce the same result.

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